CULTURE

End of the rock festival parade

Bringing this summer’s loaded agenda of imported concert activity to an end, next week’s Terra Vibe Festival will unite the resurrected top-sellers the Smashing Pumpkins, here for a second time, as well as Manic Street Preachers and Kasabian, both set to play their first shows in Greece. The festival, one of several new arrivals to the Greek capital’s expanded pop-rock circuit, takes its name from the Terra Vibe venue, an open-air concert location in Malakassa, on the northern outskirts of Athens, which has hosted the annual Rockwave festival and other rock concerts organized by long-running local concert promoter Di-Di Music in recent years. Following their enormous commercial success in the 90s, the Smashing Pumpkins, a band whose material was written and shaped by frontman and songwriter Billy Corgan, dissolved not long after releasing their sixth album, «Machina/The Machines of God,» a concept album, in 2000. Corgan and his band members all quickly followed up with various other projects. Perhaps feeling the need to detach from a position of total artistic responsibility, Corgan, who had been described as a musical dictator because of his total control over all artistic issues concerning the Smashing Pumpkins, spent the summer of 2001 playing guitar with New Order before launching his new band, Zwan, later that year. The two other former Smashing Pumpkins, James Iha and Melissa Auf Der Maur, began working on a super-group they called the Virgins, with the intention of getting contribution from various well-known acts, among them Ryan Adams and Evan Dando, singer of the Lemonheads. The Smashing Pumpkins sold millions, and, unlike many of their peers, managed to stay intact for several albums despite major internal wrangling and woes that troubled the band from early on. While touring in support of 1991’s debut album «Gish,» the Smashing Pumpkins were dealing with a parade of issues, including escalating tension between the band’s members. Iha and D’Arcy, who had been involved in a relationship, went through a messy breakup but carried on working together, Corgan had fallen into a deep depression, and Jimmy Chamberlin, a former jazz musician who was hired as the band’s full-time drummer, developed a drug and alcohol problem. He was fired in the mid-90s after the group’s touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, died of a heroin overdose. He was with Chamberlin, who survived his own overdose. Corgan worked his way through his depression for the band’s second album, 1993’s «Siamese Dream.» He fashioned an appealing amalgam of prog-rock, heavy metal, goth-rock, psychedelia and dreamy pop that established the Smashing Pumpkins as one of its era’s biggest sellers. By the time the American band played its first Greek show, at a sold-out Lycabettus Theater back in the late 90s, shortly after the release of its fourth album, «Adore,» the act had cemented itself as the longest-lasting and most successful alternative band of the early 90s. Corgan, who released a solo album in 2005, «The Future Embrace,» is now back as a Smashing Pumpkin without the overwhelming majority of the band’s previous personnel. Despite receiving mixed reviews, this year’s «Zeitgeist» album, the first Smashing Pumpkins album in seven years, has taken Corgan on the road again with great success. The veteran frontman and his new band members spent the second half of July playing a sold-out 12-show residency at San Francisco’s historic Fillmore venue. The 1,200-capacity stadium, a focal point for psychedelic music and counterculture in the mid-60s – where bands such the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and the Doors played some of their early shows – was relaunched in 1994 with a Smashing Pumpkins show after remaining closed for several years. The band followed up last month’s Fillmore residency with a limited 10-date European tour. From Athens next Wednesday, the Smashing Pumpkins move on to Istanbul for an appearance on September 1 before starting a second round of shows in North America, beginning in Montreal. The band is the headline act at the one-day Terra Vibe festival on the outskirts of Athens. The long-running Welsh band Manic Street Preachers, an act that has based its work on working-class politics, are also on the evening’s bill for their first ever Greek show, some 20 years into their career. Also on board is the British indie-rock band Kasabian, a more recent arrival which began releasing its work four years ago. Kasabian, whose work has been compared to acts such as Primal Scream, the Stone Roses and Oasis, have sold considerably well in the UK.